Miles of irrigation piping, other items removed during marijuana grow site reclamation

Miles of irrigation piping and other items were removed during a marijuana grow site reclamation operation focused on sites in Trinity County that affected the South Fork of the Trinity River.

According to the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, the operation was funded by the Forest Service Pacific Southwest Regional Office with resources set aside strictly for marijuana grow site clean ups.

"These grow sites were in remote locations and were difficult to access, making remediation efforts challenging and costly," said Patrol Captain Carson Harris. "The sites are far from roads, and because they contain toxic pesticides and other hazardous materials, HAZMAT protocols must be followed."

In February, officials said investigators, assisted by Integral Ecology Research Center and the Watershed Research and Training Center, were able to collect grow infrastructure into pre-staged sling load sites at eight different marijuana grows for removal with a helicopter at a later date.

"To reduce the grow site impacts and discourage illegal growers from returning, we remove all the infrastructure. If we leave it intact, growers will return and reuse the same sites," said Harris.

From May 7 through May 11, investigators, assisted by the Integral Ecology Research Center, the Watershed Center, Trinity County Resource Conservation District, the Trinity County Sheriff's Office, California Department of Justice, and California National Guard performed reclamation on the eight pre-stage marijuana grows.

Officials said they were also able to reclaim four additional marijuana grows.

Harris said they used helicopters to air-lift tons of garbage and miles of irrigation piping. The team also removed 950 pounds of fertilizer, 30 pounds of hazardous materials including pesticides, 24 propane tanks, 12 car batteries, and 31.38 miles of irrigation hose.

The total weight of infrastructure removed from the sites was 21,895 pounds.

Officials said this operation restored 95 percent of the 69 acres of land involved in these grow sites.

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